At what point do we reach super hero saturation? Perhaps The Incredibles nailed it when they said “when everyone is super, no one is”.
Just how many need to be bitten, zapped, poisoned or charged before we admit the is a problem? Will two heroes spy each other on the red carpet of next year’s Superhero awards and think ‘you went with a cape too huh? And you fly? Gee I might rethink this’.
In The Avengers: Age of Ultron all of our favourite characters, with the requisite sub-heroes and various hangers on normally neatly compartmentalised in their own franchises, together at the one time.
This might be director JJ Abrams’ moment of admission, “my name is JJ, and I am a hoarder”. But it might be the genre that has the problem.
The lurid and vibrant non-violent collision violence opens the film. Watch the bodies fly! Don’t wonder where they land or how and if they ever get back up. Don’t wonder why no one ever hits anyone regardless of how many bullets or laser beams are fired. Everything just misses, never just hits. And when it hits, it was because they wanted it to happen.
Don’t fret when Hawkeye seems seriously hurt; after all he doesn’t even bleed, despite being allegedly near death.
Shortly afterwards Tony Stark searches a foreign room intoning “Please be a secret door. Please be a secret door.” It’s almost a pity he doesn’t turn and wink to the screen when his plea is rewarded.
The plot has something to do with a sceptre that may be the key to world peace. Between the tassaract, a sceptre and various other magical and otherwise important artefacts just lying about, you start wondering if this is a movie series or a Skylanders game.
Some guy named Ultron (James Spader) – a computer program actually – thinks it is the superheroes who are the problem, and for the first time I might admit he has a point. At least his posse is more compact, a fast guy and a mind controlling chickie. Ultron doesn’t need others to shine. This guy is no Pitbull…
Now with big concepts like world peace and the end of superheroes on the line, you would think someone would take this more seriously. Not a chance. Everyone here is quipping away. Even Ultron. Back to The Incredibles; when everyone is the funny one, no one is the funny one.
Nope. Instead of the tension of the potential end of the Avengers, we get The Avengers off duty, the swishy party, the safe house, introspective chats about the true nature of the job. Admitting doubts. Burnt out.
The tipping point came in a tender conversation between a husband and a wife that until this film never existed. The wife looks up, touches hubbies’ hand, and says “you know I totally support your avenging, but…”
Superheroes – they can be whipped by their wives just like us.
Pick a side supes, give me either indestructible justice machines (Thor, Hulk), or fallible eminently mortal superheroes-by-choice (Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye). Not two hours of a dozen or so guys n gals downplaying and lamenting the very traits that convinced us to buy a ticket in the first place.
The final hour of The Avengers was a frenzy of action that elevated the film – bailed it out really. No finale dispatching faceless minions was going to bail this film out.
The middle hour of The Avengers: Age of Ultron resigns this film to ‘just a movie’ status. Regardless of the names on the poster, the size of the budget, or indeed the size of the box office, this is the Avengers most human. But this is the problem. I don’t want my superheroes human – I already know lots of humans – I want them superheroic, all the time.
This is Michael Jordan playing baseball. He’s ok at it, but for goodness’ sake, why be mediocre at something when you’re the undisputed champ of something else?
Final Rating – 6 / 10. The early symptoms of cape overload include deafness, blurred vision, and wondering what else is on on TV at the moment…